This is quite an old story, but one I haven't until now got round to verifying.
(If you find yourself checking that the date hasn't somehow jumped on to April 1st without your noticing it, then the ICOM (International Council of Museums) web page HERE is from where most of the quotations have been lifted.)
The first question is: what is a museum?
The next question is: who decides what is a museum?
The further question is: what do we call the people who decide what is a museum?
The next paragraph, below, answers the last two questions. But only read it if you're prepared to be driven mad.
Aiming to respond to the need for a democratic and open process of consultation to the National Committees, International Committees, Regional Alliances and Affiliated Organisations that constitute ICOM, the Standing Committee for the Museum Definition formulated a new methodology going forward. The design of this methodology is based on greater transparency, as well as the careful listening to all proposals. At this point, members of MDPP2 agreed that a change in the name would be advisable and it was requested to the ICOM leadership that the new name be ICOM Define: Standing Committee for the Museum Definition.
As a matter of interest, the 2007 (and current) definition of a museum is:
A museum is a
non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its
development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches,
communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and
its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.
I don't know if a definitive new definition has yet been reached, but one proposal has been quoted in the press:
Museums are democratising,
inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the
futures. Acknowledging and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the
present, they hold artefacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard
diverse memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and equal
access to heritage for all people.
Museums are not for profit. They are participatory and
transparent, and work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to
collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance understandings of
the world, aiming to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global
equality and planetary wellbeing.
After that I can only recommend an over-the-counter headache pill and a quiet lie-down.
Word To Use Today. A nice short simple one, please. Like clarity. That word comes form the Latin clārus, which means clear.